Imagine working your normal shift, and having a regularly scheduled meeting in the breakroom. Except there was nothing ordinary about it. One of your managers announces the start of the meeting. Then, your other manager comes up, seemingly out of nowhere, with a menacing blank stare on his face…and starts shooting at people—intending to murder them.
This is the trauma the overnight workers in Chesapeake endured Tuesday evening.
The saddest thing is that this tragedy could have been prevented, and the six lives that were cut short by the shooter could have been spared.
One thing that needs to happen in all workplaces, no matter what the company or how small or large the workforce, is zero tolerance for a toxic work environment. No, a toxic work environment is NO excuse for murder, but it can create lifelong trauma for those around it and is also bad for productivity and eventually the bottom line of a company. I have seen it firsthand. Symptoms of a toxic work environment that I have personally witnessed are pervasive gossiping, tension between colleagues, and an attitude of apathy about work performance and work related issues.
Upper management, including corporate officials, of a company need to create a culture where people are not terrified of or hesitant to bringing up concerns to them. For instance, my store director always tries to listen empathetically to our concerns and helps bring about a viable and helpful solution to them. I also think that there should be mandatory training for all workers on how to listen empathetically to others without interrupting, invalidating, or verbally assaulting them. Not only that, but time should be set aside regularly (i.e…at least every month) where people can voice their concerns about serious workplace issues to management without being interrupted or invalidated.
If these measures were put in place in Chesapeake, I believe the tensions there and the resulting tragedy could have been prevented. Again, I am not trying to place blame on anyone. I am just pointing out what could be done to promote a more positive work environment in all companies.
Another thing that I learned from this tragedy is that we should value everyone and not take loved ones for granted, because we never know when they may be taken away from us. We can do this by taking note of those co-workers and others around us who are hurting or broken, and give them extra grace instead of condemnation and judgment. Look for ways to minister to them and make them feel worthy. For instance, a coworker asked me if I was going to be OK when she found out I was spending this past Thanksgiving alone. If a coworker is fallen on hard financial times and cannot pay for their groceries, we should offer to help them out if we can. We should also find ways to compliment people on genuinely good work. If someone works hard to get things done efficiently and correctly, we should tell them we appreciate all they have done to do so.
Also, we should strive to forgive those who hurt us, so that a root of bitterness does not spring up and cause undue harm to us and others. If the shooter forgave those that he alleged hurt him emotionally, this tragedy would have never happened. Yes, maybe certain people do not “deserve” forgiveness, but how much do we deserve the forgiveness of God? That is why it cost God His Son, because we don’t deserve forgiveness at all.
Let us normalize quitting jobs that foster a toxic work environment, where stress levels are too high and tensions get the best of us to protect our mental and emotional health. And let us pray for the families of the victims of this shooting, and pray that tragedies like this will never happen again.
Someone I know wrote the following words “I feel cursed.” I can certainly relate to how they feel, as I have been rejected, tossed aside, ignored, and my feelings trivialized by many in society in general. More than once, I felt hopeless and in despair about my life. Worst of all, I felt utterly alone and stuck in the rut that I made. I thought this was the end of my life story and that I would be cursed to a life of utter helplessness and despair forever.
Thankfully, God intervened…more than once. God brought people into my life who saw the value He did in me. However, they did not come overnight, but through my circumstances, the Lord would not let me give up on myself or on the life He gave to me. One such person I will refer to as J. J was my mentor. She believed that I could go far in life and even get a full time job working with many people, even when many around me doubted that I could handle such a job, due to my autism. It took six months for me to even believe that what she was trying to do would help, but finally I relented. A few years later, I got a full time job in retail that involves dealing with many customers. I am still in retail today.
Another such person is my now-former manager Elizabeth.* I had a dream that I wanted to learn to cashier, and she supported me even when many of the other managers and a so-called friend did not. Finally, after several months of training, I became a substitute cashier, and a few weeks after that, a customer was already commenting how fast I was checking her out, to her delight!
God also taught me that I don’t have to “fit in” to my peer group or in society to be truly loved, and that only what He thinks of me truly will matter in the eternal perspective of things. When I remember this, I feel more confident in who God has created me to be and less afraid to reveal my quirks and my dreams to others, even at the risk of ridicule and dismissal of them by others.
If you have ever felt cursed by society or by your life, you are not alone. Whatever pain you may be facing right now due to your abilities and gifts not being taken seriously or if you feel you created a rut in your life and you don’t know how to get out of it, please do not give up. I almost did—more than once, but thankfully, God intervened each time. Things can and do get better. God continually renews and restores people. Will you trust Him to do so?
For me, seeing that I am not a cursed person that repels others has taken many, many years and I am still recovering from the pain of rejection and ridicule in my life, but God has opened my eyes to see that I am blessed and that He is continuing to restore and renew me to conform to His image.
Do you feel discouraged, deflated, and worthless? Are there critical voices in your head or from others that reject your true self? Are you on the verge of seeing the last straw in your life that would break the camel’s back?
I have been there—many times in my life. But you know what? I have learned over and over again that God can still restore, renew, revive and use me for His good purposes. I am a living testimony of this.
I have struggled on and off with depression for over two decades. I’ve had many suicidal thoughts, and came close to attempting many times. I was told by several people that I would not likely get a full time job ever in my life. I was told by an instructor that I would never learn to drive, and that I should start learning how to use public transportation.
However, these naysayers—the ones that told me in different ways that I wouldn’t amount to much or that I could not achieve what neurotypical, or non-autistic, people could achieve—did not have the final say on the rest of my life. The instructor that said I would never drive did not know that God, through my dear mentor J, paved the way for me to be more confident and practice driving more until I now drive regularly by myself to work, stores, church, and other places! The people that said that I could never have a full time job or would not be likely to get one did not anticipate that, soon after they said this, God would provide me with a full time job that lasted almost 6 years! Not only that, I am also currently full time. Whenever I would concoct a plan to end my life or I was reaching the end of the rope, God prevented me from actually attempting suicide and also provided people in my life who encouraged me and empathized with my situation and stressors.
No matter what has happened in your life or how hopeless your situation may seem, God can also use you! Don’t listen to those voices—whether they may come from within or from others— that tell you that you won’t be able to accomplish “x” and who don’t know your full capabilities. God will provide what you need in order to carry out His good purposes for your life! You may not become the person that you pictured you would be when you were younger. I certainly am not! However, you will be the person that God wants you to be and make a positive difference in your world….if you persevere and trust that He is able.
Know that God uses unlikely people to accomplish great things. He used David, who was the youngest of his brothers and was a lowly shepherd, to lead His people (Israel) as a king after His own heart. The Lord is using Nick Sergent* (more info on him here), a former drug addict and a three time suicide survivor, through TikTok videos, to tell others about His immense love and redemptive powers. He is using me to relay this message to you today.
And God can use you too. Will you trust Him enough to change your life and redeem it for good?
God has been opening my eyes to things of eternal value, and has been working on me to not dwell on things that have only temporal value. I have observed that most people go through life without thinking much of where they will spend eternity and cultivating in their lives that which will last forever. The devil has deceived many into thinking that now is the only time that matters. Often it takes a tragedy or a crisis in one’s life to bring to one’s mind the things of eternity and the impending subject of one’s death and how we should live our lives now for a better tomorrow.
One way God has been shedding light on the eternal for me is with how He has been helping me heal from my past experiences and wounds. God brought people into my life who believe in who God has created me to be and who are cheering on my successes, not being envious of them or telling me the devil’s lies that I am not good enough. God has been teaching me the value of a person’s soul—not just mine, but everyone else also. Even the people that hurt me in the past need to know that there is hope for their soul, not because they deserve it, but because God doesn’t want anyone to perish in hell for their sins. However, God doesn’t want me to dwell on the past, but, as is said in Philippians 3:13-14 (KJV)- “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Another way God has been opening my eyes to things of eternal value is by getting me to let go of control of the temporal things that I have been holding on to too tightly. Before I became a Christian, I used to be very stingy and materialistic, but as time goes on, I realize that God wants me to use the material goods that He has blessed me with to further His kingdom and not hoard them for myself. I not only want people to feel provided for, but also to see people’s eyes opened to the value of sharing and letting go of materialistic and monetary obsessions that stifle our view of eternity. We can’t take anything of materialistic value with us when we pass from this earthly life to eternity anyway. God has also taught me that when people are willing to share with those who are in need of something, whether it be butter for cooking or a listening ear when someone needs affirmation or encouragement during a difficult time in their lives, people forget about themselves and their issues and find joy in sharing.
God has been also showing me the value of the eternal through the events that He has allowed to happen in our world that point to the Last Days and the Rapture, where Jesus will take up all believers into the air. In the past two years alone, I have experienced several days of water shortage in our area, record heat, the whole thing with the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, people looking for answers and hope in the midst of their personal tragedies, increasing tensions between politicians and between people who hold opposing views on a number of political and moral issues. In all this, I see God, who is in control of it all and who provides eternal hope to those who are seeking answers to the why in their trials and tribulations, or just the meaning and purpose of their lives.
Jesus said in Matthew 9:37 (KJV): The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.
Jesus wants me to be a laborer for His kingdom to bring hope and love to an anguished and dying world.
Almost two years ago, near the end of October 2020, I felt like my life was over. This was during the height of the pandemic, where I felt so isolated and alone that I didn’t even see God working. I gave into fear and disillusionment. I was on leave from work because the increasing stress had caused me to have an anxiety attack and nervous breakdown.
What I did not know was that after my leave was over, the stress at work would dissipate for awhile, before becoming bad again. Fear paralyzed me and threatened to permanently steal the joy I should have had as a believer in Christ.
A little over a month ago today, God blessed me with my current job. One Wednesday night, I went to church service, but didn’t expect anything great since there were very few people in our congregation that attended (the rest were with the children to celebrate the kids’ accomplishments in AWANA). What I didn’t know is that service has the potential to change my perspective and my life forever.
A missionary in our congregation spoke on living the victorious Christian life. This was not some sort of feel-good easy-believism kind of sermon. No, this was personal. This missionary’s message was both challenging and hopeful at the same time. He spoke of surrendering one’s entire self to God instead of trying to live the Christian life under one’s own power and strength. He spoke of the spiritual battles that will happen when one makes this commitment to God, but that we also need to use God’s strength and power through the shed blood of Jesus to bind these evil forces that try to dissuade us from fully following and surrendering to Him.
I suddenly realized why I was feeling so stressed out in my previous job, and still struggling with Impostor syndrome when people complimented me at my new job. I was trying to navigate the stressors at work under my own power! I realized that my life could be radically changed if I just trusted God in this area and let go of the illusion of control over what happened at work. I needed to let go of the pain I experienced in the past, whether from previous jobs or other past experiences.
I did not need to “prove” to anyone anything. I did not need to be the best at work just to be “acceptable” in God’s or my manager’s eyes. I just needed to give up the illusion that I could control things or that I could do anything worthwhile in my own power. Most of all, I needed to put my “self” to death, that is my selfish desires and ambitions, and give it all to God to allow Him to use me however He sees fit, and I can trust Him because He will always work all things to my good and His ultimate glory! I also realized that I needed to not fear trials and tribulations of life, but trust that God would lead me through them in His power and for His glory!
Sometimes, I still struggle with my fears, especially of trials, because I doubt I can handle them. However, by God’s strength and love, I know God will bring me through them for His glory.
–Reflections on life and the aftermath of the Uvalde tragedy
by: Patricia A. Go written: May 25, 2022
I can see the world around me sinking. Two years ago, COVID-19 was born, which crippled operations of the entire world. Many millions of people perished from the virus; many more got sick. There is the ongoing war in Ukraine, where many people are being slaughtered and are suffering because of the anger and hatred around them. Inflation here in the States has been at 40-year high, making everything from gasoline to our daily bread becoming more expensive than ever. Then, just yesterday, an 18-year old gunman opened fire in Uvalde, Texas, shooting 19 people, including his own grandmother and several elementary school students, for who knows what reason.
I was not made aware of the Uvalde tragedy until I came home from work last night. What I feel now is numbness, shock and disbelief. How can this tragedy keep on happening? How long will it be until something changes? Yes, I agree with people who say we need to change governmental policies, especially with certain people having access to guns that shouldn’t. However, even if we change policies and enact stricter laws, I am convinced that evil will continue to rear its ugly head in other, but equally tragic ways.
I sense God saying to us as a society: It’s time.
It’s time to stop chasing after the temporal in life like money, material possessions and notoriety or fame.
It’s time to hold our loved ones close, treasure the time that God has given us, and look to the things of eternity that will never fade, be stolen, or rot away.
It’s time to teach children how to love and be loved in the most biblical, selfless way possible.
It’s time to seek God’s will and ways.
It’s time to care for those who are on the brink of suicide or desperation. Engage with them. Encourage them and be there for all those who are suffering. Don’t add stigma by giving moral labels to people’s feelings and thoughts in self-righteous condemnation or judgment.
It’s time not just to enact change in governmental policy, but also bring hope and show Christlike love to those around us, which will enable the Spirit to change hearts, which will initiate a true, lasting change in behavior and temperament.
It’s time for us to forgive our enemies, and to make peace with all those around us.
It’s time to not live in fear but to live with a sense of urgency, joy and fulfillment.
Time continues to tick, and we do not know how much of it we have left. I believe God is urging us to wake up. WAKE UP! God is telling me—telling us— to not be complacent with life and to make as much positive difference as we can.
Wake up and live each day as if it were your last, because one day it will be. Either you will regret how you lived your life for eternity or it can be a day of rejoicing and fulfillment of your God-given purpose!
Despite it being a sunny and pleasant day, weather-wise, I had no motivation left to do anything. I felt ashamed, useless, angry, and powerless. Much of who I identified with was tied to my job. I was one of the top performers there, and since my job and seemingly everything that went with it was taken away from me, I was devastated. Most of my friends were tied up either at work or being swept through with the daily stressors of their lives. Besides, I no longer wanted to add burdens to them by relating *my* stresses.
I planned to take the books, magazines and DVDs my parents and I had borrowed and return them to the library, and then go to my church as a last ditch effort to get the emotional care I so desperately needed at the time. It was around three-thirty in the afternoon. I did not think anyone was in there, since most of the staff I thought already went home during this time.
I thought to myself that if that didn’t work, then I was going to have to find some way to end it all. I did not really have any specific exit plan, but I knew if I didn’t get help, this Monster inside me was going to take over and destroy me forever.
I tried to open the front door, that led to the church sanctuary, where services were held. Of course, that was locked, since there was no service at that time of day. However, I saw several cars parked in front of the church office.
“Good,” I thought to myself. ” Maybe someone is there.”
I tried to open the door to the church office. It was unlocked. I walked quickly to the church foyer where people usually ate and congregated before services. I saw a man. Immediately, I felt a heavy spirit pressing upon me, as I wept from utter relief and overwhelm.
“I need to talk to a pastor.” I told him, in desperation. Then, the man quickly notified a couple of my pastors that I was there and needed support.
After that, the assistant pastor Ted* and the youth director, A.J came out. They immediately sensed something was wrong with me. All the overwhelming feelings and past experiences that were attached to my depression, spilled in words of desperation out of my mouth. I had expected to be condemned or ridiculed, or just brushed aside. Ted and A. J did neither of those. Instead, they listened patiently and encouraged me, as I dealt with my feelings of shame, anger and hurt that I tried to bury for many months before. A.J invited me to volunteer at church the next day to clean and organize some things in it, and he prayed for my healing and strength to get through this tough time. The teens in the church were also planning to volunteer. I felt a sense of relief and hope that I was finally heard and that I was not rejected by them. I knew God had brought them there at that time to save my life!
The next day, I went to volunteer at church. I almost felt like I was working again. I was energized and felt better about myself and the world around me. What I did not know, is that God would be working again through the speaker in the evening service, later that day.
It was around 5:45 in the evening, and the wind was fairly strong, but not overly so. I was sitting outside on the church steps leading to the sanctuary waiting for the church to be opened, so I could go inside and eat my dinner, which I had stored in the church’s refrigerator.
Then, suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see a car pull up by the church office. “Good!” I thought. ” Maybe that’s A. J and he will be able to open the door for me.”
It turned out to be the missionary, Tim Bundy, who was going to be a guest speaker at the church that evening! I told him that my name was Patricia and that I was a member of the church.
Then, later the children’s ministry director, Sara, * opened the door for me and I was able to eat my dinner.
I was still feeling a little depressed and lonely as I waited for service to start. However, I was still a lot better than I was the previous afternoon before I went to the church.
Bundy talked about how God had led him into the ministry and how he had found his wife. However, it was when he turned to the message that I really felt God speaking to me through him that would change my mindset for the better.
He talked about how God can use anyone, even those who have disabilities or problems to accomplish His will in their lives.
He says, “There is nothing we can offer God, but the willingness to be used of Him. [God says], ‘I have called each and every one of you to be used of Me equally. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have riches, or strength, or popularity, or fame or influence; you have Me, and as I lead you, that is all you will ever need.”
Bundy also talked about the extent of God’s love, and how God does not love us less based on what we do or experience in our life. Furthermore, he talked about how God loves all kinds of people, even the drug addict or the difficult boss or family member who does not want to hear about Him, that we should look at them with the boundless grace and mercy God looked at us even before we were conceived.
I felt God speaking to me, right then, saying, “You can forgive the people that hurt you at your former job and in your past. You don’t have to be angry and bitter at them anymore. You can let them go now. You can let Me take care of them for you. You don’t have to get even. You just show them the love and grace that I showed you.”
God also said, “I still can use you even though you don’t have a job now. You still can be used of Me if you are willing to trust me that I have the best possible plan for you. You are not useless, powerless or shameful. You are Mine, and you can draw upon My strength to persevere throughout your life.”
God saved me from making a mistake that could have taken my life prematurely, through the support and care of my pastors, the message that He spoke through Tim Bundy, and the determination and joy that Tim and Jennifer have for ministering and soul winning for the people of Ethiopia. I still struggle at times, but knowing that God is on my side and will help me persevere gives me peace and strength to not give up on what God has for my life.
If you would like to support Timothy and Jennifer Bundy’s ministry, please see this link . Like me, they are trusting God to use them mightily.
*= These names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned.
Fear, in my life, has been like the tangled web of lies and entrapment that suffocated me, and constantly sucked joy out of my life. Fear led to my depression, and subsequently an eating disorder which I struggled from my tween years into my early teens. Fear led me to continue in toxic friendships and other relationships in fear of what would happen if I ended them. Fear prevented me from really experiencing some of the blessings that God had for me. However, in the past couple years, God has untied the knots of fear in my life and has led me out into a place of joy and freedom that I haven’t felt since I was a little girl!
Since I was a little girl, I have striven to perform well, whether it be in school or in work. However, I believe the devil used this trait to develop in me the attitude of perfectionism, which led to one of my biggest fears—fear of failure. Whether it be from my parents, society, teachers, bosses, or my peers, when I failed, I could see, in their eyes, their disappointment and sometimes anger at my failure. I felt so invalidated and discouraged during those times, that I subconsciously told myself that I would try never to fail in front of them. That, however, proved impossible.
A couple years ago, the fear of failure and not performing up to my “normal” performance rate (which was already above what management wanted) led to a mental breakdown, which led me to take a leave of absence from work. After I came back to work, I knew I had to face my fear of failing to perform at my “normal” standards head on if I were to prevent future problems at my job.
A couple weeks ago, a new procedure was put into place which confronted my fear of not performing to my normal rate/speed head on. Since the new procedure was put into place, I was no longer in complete control of how fast I could pick the items for the customer. I also learned a couple days ago, that even with the new procedures at work, there were other aspects of my performance (We call them “metrics.”) where I may not be able to be in complete control over the results, because of issues related to the worldwide supply chain disruption or with vendors, drivers, or other people in which I cannot control. With the realization that I did not have to (and could not) control every aspect of my performance, I am now just resolved to do the best I can and now have some semblance of peace in how I perform.
Another way that God has taught me to live life unafraid is by working on me to help me combat my fear of what others think of me. My fear of man had led me to think of how God created me as deficient and inferior, which led to a very unhealthy obsession with restrictive eating. This fear of what others thought of me also led me to continue in some toxic and abusive friendships that reinforced my low self-worth. When God opened my eyes to the lies and the abuse that I had acquiesced to, I was finally able to break much of the ties that I had with the toxicity that enslaved me and almost destroyed me. I realized that I did not need to be friends with people that constantly put me down and bullied me. I did not need to change my personality or appearance for fear that people would not accept the Real me. I could be my unique, neurodivergent, joyful self and who God created me to be, and if people don’t like who I am, at least I know that I am developing into who God wants me to be, and He will always love and cherish me, even if no one else ever does. Thankfully though, God has led me to people that do like the Real me, just the way I am.
In all these situations, God has shown me that if I trust Him to provide for my every need and not worry so much about what would happen if I lacked something I think I “need,” I am able to free myself from the grip of fear and live life unafraid.